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  • 12 Mar 2020 8:22 PM | Anonymous

    After taking into consideration our community’s health and well-being in light of COVID-19, with deep regret, the MuBANY Board and Gala Committee have indefinitely postponed this year’s Annual Gala and Awards Reception. Later this year, we plan to consider whether to hold the Gala in the fall.  We hope to find a safe and enjoyable way to honor and celebrate our awardees' incredible accomplishments.

    For anyone who purchased an individual ticket, you will receive a separate email with instructions for receiving a refund. Similarly, Gala sponsors will receive a separate communication with next steps. 

    Thank you all for your support, and we hope we can celebrate at another time. In the meantime, we hope you all stay safe and stay informed via NY.Gov and CDC.Gov. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our organization if we can be of assistance at this time.

  • 28 May 2019 12:38 PM | Anonymous

    This year, we had a number of incredibly talented candidates who have demonstrated a real commitment to MuBANY.  Unfortunately, there were only five vacancies. 

    Please join me in congratulating the newly elected Directors for the 2019-2020 term: 

    Amin Kassam, Sania Khan, Saira Khan, Saima Sheikh, and Maimoona Zia. 

    In addition, our treasurer Sabila Khan, announced that she would be stepping down. Last month, pursuant to our by-laws the Board selected Mavara Agha to finish the remainder of the term through 2020.

    MuBANY would not have had our level success without the hard work and dedication of the current board.  Thank you for all your efforts. In particular, we would like to recognize Sabila and Yasmin Dwedar.

  • 06 May 2019 10:40 AM | Anonymous
    MuBANY is proud to lead 58 religious/religiously affiliated organizations in an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in State of California v. Trump. The lawsuit seeks to halt President Trump’s re-allocation of funds to build a wall on the southern border.  Amici include congregations and houses of worship representing a wide array of faiths and denominations, as well as professional, civil liberties, and immigrant rights groups who work or represent faith communities. Thanks to our friends at Patterson Belknap for spearheading this effort. 
  • 30 Apr 2019 10:17 PM | Anonymous

    We are proud to share A Legal Employer’s Guide to Islam in the Workplace, a document prepared by MuBANY.   This guide provides an introduction to the religious practices and expressions of many Muslims and is meant to serve as a reference tool for law firms, law departments, and other legal employers when responding to the needs of their Muslim employees. We hope the guide will be helpful in informing legal employers about Ramadan and what it means for their Muslim colleagues.

    MuBANY - A Legal Employer's Guide to Islam in the Workplace (2019).pdf

    MuBANY Ramadan Letter 2019.pdf

  • 30 Apr 2019 9:00 PM | Anonymous

    Get to know the candidates running to serve as Directors by reading their candidate statements below. We have 8 candidates running for the 5 open positions. 

    Please make sure your MuBANY membership is up-to-date. All members that are current in their dues will receive voting instructions.

    Best of luck to all the candidates!

    Amin Kassam - Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. 

    My name is Amin Kassam and I am currently the Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. where I am responsible for the operations of the Legal and Compliance Department along with litigating and advising on issues relating to new media, technology, privacy, and intellectual property. I am also actively involved in Bloomberg’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and have made a concerted effort to raise awareness about issues facing Muslims at Bloomberg. For example, I led efforts that resulted in the Company signing onto a Supreme Court amicus brief challenging the Trump administration’s travel ban and hosted Bloomberg’s first ever panel discussion on Ramadan. I also concurrently serve on the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union and was recently appointed to the transition team for New York Attorney General Letitia James.

    It has been my privilege to serve on the MuBANY Board for the past two years and I hope to be given the opportunity to serve again. As a Muslim lawyer for over 18 years, I believe I bring a breadth of experience that is unique to the Board having spent much of my time practicing as one of the first or only Muslim lawyers at the law firms and federal clerkships where I started my career. Indeed, living through 9-11 without the support of a significant community of Muslim lawyers was lonely and challenging and it continues to drive my desire to help make MuBANY an even stronger, dynamic, and more influential bar association.

    At a time when the rights of Muslims in the United States are under tremendous threat, I believe that it is critical that we build coalitions and draw upon allies in order to support our efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans. As a result, in the past I have helped MuBANY to host a joint Eid celebration with the New York Civil Liberties Union, a moderated discussion with the Metropolitan Black Lawyers Association on Why Black Lives Matter to Muslims, a panel discussion on LGBT Asian lawyers and judges with the Asian American and LGBT Bar Associations, and an initiative with the City of New York to provide pro bono mediation services to Muslim communities. If elected, I hope to continue this work and create new programs that build bridges across communities, undertake initiatives to protect the rights of Muslims and other marginalized communities, and further enhance diversity and inclusion within MUBANY. Thank you for your consideration.

    Faraz Rana - Chief Legal Officer of Bread

    I'm the CLO of Bread, a regulated financial technology company. Having helped start the company some four years ago, I built out the legal and compliance functions. Bread now has over 100 employees and raised several rounds of funding.  Prior to embarking on the start-up scene, I worked in the M&A/private-equity group at Weil Gotshal for about six years.

    A former MuBANY Board member (circa 2011), I took a brief sabbatical to search for the meaning of life, and return humbly to my MuBANY roots with no answers.  My overarching philosophy for the organization continues to be one of community engagement premised on moderation, professionalism, and discourse.

    M. Shams Billah - Senior Associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

    Salaam, my name is Mushfique Shams Billah and I am a senior associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. I have been involved with the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY) for 10 years since 2009 when I was a law student and Asim Rehman, one of the co-founders and then President of MuBANY, introduced me to the group. MuBANY has played a critical role in my career and I would welcome the opportunity to give back to MuBANY by serving on its board of directors. With my track record of service and my views for the future of MuBANY, I strongly believe I would be an ideal candidate to serve on the board.

    My past service and future vision are built on the following three foundations: (i) diversity in the profession, (ii) interfaith allies and (iii) the strengthening of business relationships. On diversity, in the profession I strongly believe MuBANY is uniquely positioned to increase the pipeline of diverse Muslims students entering the practice of law. Not only am I a testament to that statement, but I am actively working hard to further that goal. With only one of two known practicing Muslims at my firm of around 300 attorneys, I was able to have the firm’s diversity committee sponsor the MuBANY Gala over the past two years. Because of that relationship and my involvement with my firm’s diversity committee, my firm is establishing a partnership with MuBANY to further diversity pipeline initiatives. In addition to the first MuBANY law student mixer hosted by my firm that I helped arrange earlier this year (rescheduled date to follow), we are also working with MuBANY’s student committee to host a panel discussion regarding on-campus recruiting this summer. I hope to continue this strategic partnership as a member of the board of MuBANY.

    On interfaith allies, I am a strong believer in protecting the practice of faith in the workplace and providing safe places for the expression of that faith. With these values in mind, I established the Interfaith Attorney Affinity Group at my law firm and am working with the current leadership of MuBANY to espouse that concept amongst other law firms and legal organizations throughout New York. I am doing that by assisting the current MuBANY board in updating the annual letter and Legal Employer’s Guide to Islam in the Workplace to facilitate the practice of our faith in the hostile environment that we currently live in. Interfaith groups and allies can help displace some of that fear and I hope to continue working with MuBANY to create stronger allies with sister bar associations and other legal and non-profit organizations.

    On business relationships, I am a proponent of strengthening the relationships between the growing number of Muslim in-house counsel and their counterparts that are external counsel. That is why in 2016 I co-founded MuBANY’s In-House subcommittee along with Tania Ali, Deputy General Counsel at Travelex and a client of my firm. Developing and fostering such relationships will only help strengthen the Muslim legal community and I hope to offer events and opportunities to expand such relationships as a member of the MuBANY board.

    I would appreciate your support and would welcome your assistance in helping me see these goals to fruition. Together, we can continue creating and fostering a resilient and robust Muslim legal community.

    Maimoona Zia Associate General Counsel at McKinsey & Company

    My name is Maimoona Zia, and I am an Associate General Counsel at McKinsey & Company, where I focus on technology transactions and related intellectual property and data privacy matters. I have been honored to serve MuBANY in an official capacity for the past two years: as a Director on MuBANY's Board of Directors for the current 2018-2019 term and as Membership Chair for the term prior to that. I am now requesting your vote for Director for this upcoming 2019-2020 term.

    As Director for the current term, I have been delighted to contribute to MuBANY's work. For example, I serve as MuBANY's representative to the New York City Bar Association's diversity award selection committee, where I helped the committee select, interview, and award lawyers who have made remarkable efforts towards increasing diversity in the legal profession. Further, I helped co-organize an informal networking event for MuBANY members to discuss the successes and challenges of being a Muslim woman in the legal field, and separately, am co-leading an effort on behalf of MuBANY to explore partnership opportunities with a non-profit organization that is focused on raising sexual violence awareness in Muslim communities.

    In my previous role as Chair, I also initiated innovative programming. For example, I led and managed MuBANY's participation at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, where two MuBANY members observed international legal and policy debates first-hand and had the opportunity to liaise with diplomats, subject matter experts, and other non-governmental organizations to explore issues relevant to MuBANY's membership, such as women's legal rights, and provide reports to MuBANY on their observances. Similarly, during my time as Chair, I served as MuBANY's representative to a select leadership development event, where I gained insight into developing professional opportunities for MuBANY's membership.

    If elected as a director for the 2019-2020 term, I will continue to (1) explore innovative and interesting opportunities that may be of benefit to our membership, like the networking, partnering, and professional development programs I noted above, and (2) help MuBANY strengthen its position as a significant professional association in the wider NY legal and Muslim community. I hope you will give me such an opportunity again.

    Saima Sheikh Employment Litigation Associate at Baker Hostetler

    My name is Saima Sheikh. I am the current co-chair of MuBANY’s Women’s Committee and am seeking a directorship position for the 2019-2020 term. I practice employment law as an associate at Baker Hostetler. As a Director, I would continue to strive for the goals I have sought as Co-Chair of the Women’s Committee (relevant programming for our members and social networking opportunities), but I would also seek to achieve broader versions of those goals in order to spread the benefits to all our members. This past fall, I organized a panel discussion for diverse female attorneys at my firm that served as a platform to share obstacles we have faced in our careers as well as pathways for success. The event drew a large audience and sparked a lively discussion. This spring, I hosted a networking mixer for our female Muslim attorneys at the Chai Spot, which connected some of our junior members with more senior members, promoting mentorship possibilities and strengthening ties between our members.

    Beyond my contributions as Women’s Committee Co-Chair, I have also drawn upon my employment law practice at a large law firm to benefit MuBANY’s members. I helped revise MuBANY’s Islam in the Workplace Guide —a guidance document that advises employers on providing religious accommodations for Muslim attorneys. As a law firm associate, I am able to offer the resources and support of my firm, which has hosted MuBANY events and meetings, including a Women’s Committee event, a Board meeting, and also the upcoming Annual Meeting and Iftar dinner. I can bring to the table the perspective of a mid-level attorney in private practice and have connections to leaders of other minority bar associations, including the current president of AABANY, a partner at my law firm. I see tremendous value in working with other minority bar associations to advance our common interests.

    I hope to have the opportunity to guide MuBANY in its next term and serve you, its members, in providing events and programs of interest to you.

    Saira KhanDeputy General Counsel of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners

    My name is Saira Khan and I am the Deputy General Counsel of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on infrastructure investing. Prior to that I was a member of the in-house legal team at GSO Capital Partners, the credit platform of The Blackstone Group, and before that I was an associate in the Energy, Infrastructure, and Project Finance Group at White & Case. Outside of work (and through work to the extent I am able), I am committed to supporting initiatives that focus on increasing diversity and encouraging community building in New York city. I am also passionate about promoting both education and the arts and am involved with a number of non-profit organizations that further these causes and have been key to their fundraising efforts.

    I have been a MuBANY member for the last two years and wanted to become more involved, so this year I co-chaired the MuBANY Annual Gala with Sania Khan. The experience was one where we put in an incredible amount of time and effort over the past few months to help ensure the event's success (we raised a record breaking amount of money, and there was an increase in firm sponsorship and judiciary attendance), but more importantly I was able to work closely with members of MuBANY and see firsthand how critical the organization is to creating a space in New York for Muslims - both lawyers and the community at large - and to bringing attention to necessary initiatives. I am inspired by all of the gala committee members and board members I had the privilege to work with and hope to continue to give back to the organization.

    As a MuBANY director, I want to increase the support of the organization by law firms and private sector companies who could benefit MuBANY not just financially but through their existing networks in the city. I also want to leverage the existing relationships I have at these firms and with their affinity / diversity organizations to help create programming for law students and recent graduates who are interested in working at firms or as in-house counsel. I hope to help increase partnerships with other minority bar organizations to further elevate MuBANY's presence in the legal community and hope to support MuBANY's plans to to increase engagement with New York's political leadership and judiciary. Finally, I hope to support efforts to increase and further diversify MuBANY's membership and outreach through planning smaller networking events ahead of next year's Annual Gala.

    Thank you for your consideration, and I would be happy to discuss any of the above in further detail if you have any questions.

    Sania KhanAssistant Attorney General at the New York State Attorney General’s Office

    I am an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where my practice is focused on anti-Trump litigation in the civil rights context, and separately on tech & civil rights.

    I have served as a Director with MuBANY for the last two terms, and in this past term - I served as Co-Chair of MuBANY's 2019 Gala. In those capacities, I assisted with MuBANY's public service programming, 2018 and 2019 galas, amicus sign-on efforts, and overall streamlining of operations. This past year especially, Saira Khan (co-chair) and I focused a great deal of effort on ensuring that the gala was successful. We raised a record-breaking amount of sponsorships, and were able to have many members of the judiciary attend - diversifying MuBANY's exposure and membership. I hope to build on that momentum this next term. My thoughts on what MuBANY can do next, include the following:

    • Create a Judiciary Committee and appoint a judicial liaison - this will ensure that we highlight any pipeline program opportunities to our membership and that we are in continued conversation with members of the judiciary, as MuBANY can be a resource where needed. 
    • Assemble experts in the civil rights and media spaces to hold a program dealing with the regulation of hate speech on social media platforms, or the internet generally. 
    • Identify avenues and ways to better connect with our sponsor firms - including collaborating with any affinity groups that may exist at those firms for social and professional programming.

    Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy!

    Waleed Abbasi - Associate at Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford

    I am a second year associate at Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford. My practice revolves primarily around litigating labor and employment, construction, products liability and financial services matters.

    As a MuBANY Director, I would work towards ensuring that the organization's vision is clear and that progress is made towards achieving that vision. This vision would entail further involvement in assisting law students in developing and navigating their careers, increased networking opportunities for practicing attorneys, and enhanced visibility for Muslim attorneys.

  • 30 Oct 2018 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    The Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY) is truly saddened and horrified by the attack on the Tree of Life congregation. Our prayers go out to the victims, their families, the first responders, and the people of Pittsburgh.  This insidious attack upon a house of worship, a sacred place, is especially jarring.  In recent years, a growing number of congregations across our country have been targets of gun violence and hate. White supremacists murdered six Sikh Americans in Oak Creek, nine African Americans in Charleston, and now eleven Jewish Americans in Pittsburgh.

    As we grieve with the Jewish community, MuBANY is committed to redoubling our efforts to take on hate.

  • 26 Jun 2018 11:18 PM | Anonymous

    For Immediate Release:

    Today the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld the third iteration of the Muslim ban in Trump v. Hawaii, thus allowing the President to partially fulfill his campaign promise of “...a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…” While this is a definitive loss, there is something to be said for the fact that this decision was made on the third version of the Muslim Ban. It was mobilization, quick high-impact litigation, and protest that had an impact in fighting these executive orders.

    The Muslim Ban is an abandonment of our founding values as a nation. Since the implementation of this Ban, we have prevented families from war-torn countries to be reunited, students from seeking an education, talented scientists from sharing their research, and stopped people with serious illnesses to seek treatment. This is not who we are. We call on Congress to address any ambiguity in the Immigration and Nationality Act so that no person is prevented from coming to America because of their nationality or religion.

    Although this is a troubling decision, we must stay committed as a legal community to challenging and making our voices heard on issues threatening all communities. As we reflect on the ramifications of this harmful decision, please join us at a community forum Thursday, June 28th at 7pm to discuss the implications of the Muslim Ban. This is co-sponsored by MUBANY, the Council on American Islamic Relations New York (CAIR-NY), and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).  To learn more and to register please click on this link:

  • 03 Jun 2018 10:24 PM | Anonymous

    Member Spotlight Interview 

    Samaa Haridi, Partner at Hogan Lovells

    Congratulations on being our inaugural spotlight member; we are very, very excited to have you be part of this initiative. I wanted to start off by asking about your background. Based on your biography, it seems like you have lived in several different countries. How do you think that shaped your outlook and career path? 

    Thank you very much for having me, it is an honor and a pleasure to participate in this with you. My background is Egyptian. Both of my parents were born and raised in Egypt. I, however, was born in Switzerland, and grew up, as you mentioned, in a number of countries, which include Switzerland, Belgium, Morocco, Senegal, France, and of course Egypt. That is a function of my father’s profession, which required him to travel. Looking back at it now, after having had a number of years of distance from that period of my life, I realize how lucky I was to have the chance to grow up in so many different cultures. In some instances, the cultural and linguistic differences between the various countries I lived in was quite stark and the adaptation process from one country to the next was abrupt. Frankly, I was not enjoying it as a child. Looking back at it though, I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to be exposed to so many different environments, and I think it has played an immense role in how I was shaped as an adult, and more importantly, my capacity to adapt, which has helped a lot in my career and also in my personal life.

    I can only imagine. Do you think there was anything from your background that specifically drew you to a career in the legal field? 

    Actually, not really. The story of how I became a lawyer is quite peculiar. I can’t suggest that I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, that’s not at all the case. When I was finishing up high school at the French school in Cairo, I really wanted to continue my university studies in the French language. I have always been very attached to the French culture and heritage. But at the time, there were no available options in Cairo to go to college and study anything in French. It was all in English or Arabic. I was destined to go to the American University in Cairo, which is where many students in Cairo with a bit of an international education attended. But fortuitously, the year I graduated high school, the Sorbonne University decided to open a branch in Cairo that would permit students to study law in French, in Cairo, and I immediately jumped on it- not because it was law, but because it was just an opportunity to get a Sorbonne degree in French. It could have been anything- I would have gone. That’s why I say it’s a peculiar path to how I became a lawyer. And so that’s what led me to go to law school.

    It’s interesting how often times, one path leads to another, and we don’t realize where life is going to take us. And so when you were in law school, was there anyone or any experience that had a very significant impact upon you?

    The episode that led me to go to law school actually ties into the point about any person or experience having a significant impact. When I found out about the Sorbonne opening in Cairo, I went to seek further details, and I met with a man who- to this day - is my mentor. He was a very young French professor, who was sent by the Sorbonne as one of the people to be in charge of Sorbonne Cairo. I sat down with him, and in a matter of twenty minutes, he managed to completely convince me that this was a great opportunity for me and that I should go for it, and accordingly - I went for it. And it was largely this individual, Mr. Francois-Xavier Lucas, who convinced me that I should try this path - and boy was he right. He then became my professor in that program, and he truly is the person to whom I owe what I have become today. He guided me, he mentored me, he helped me, he sat numerous hours with me in Cairo, and it is thanks to him and his support that I was able to succeed. Eventually, there were not enough students who graduated from the Sorbonne in Cairo to justify continuing it. I graduated first in the class, and thanks to him, I obtained a scholarship from the French government to pursue my studies at the Sorbonne in France. And incidentally, he is actually here in New York teaching at Columbia Law School on a one-year exchange fellowship now. 

    That seems like a very fortunate experience, and a very fortunate mentor. Relatedly, was there ever a specific point during the time you were doing your studies at Sorbonne or during your LLM studies or otherwise, where you realized you wanted to enter a big law firm or private practice?

    Sure.  With every passing year, I gained clarity on the area of law that interested me most. In France, you go to law school right after high school. So I was 17 years when I started law school, and I studied overall for a period of 6 years. With each passing year I became more and more interested in the field of international arbitration. And it really cemented during my fifth year, during which time I was very fortunate to attend one of the famous international arbitration programs in Paris, under the leadership of someone by the name of Professor Paul Lagarde. That program was very geared towards international arbitration. During this time, I realized this is what I want to do. Then came the realization that I would most likely practice international arbitration as a counsel at a large law firm.

    For our law student membership, do you have advice on specific types of programs or opportunities that you think would help law students gain exposure in their interested practice areas?

    I would say this is very much a factual question, depending on what every person is interested in. I’m very active in the recruiting efforts of my firm, Hogan Lovells, so I meet students very often. When they ask me this question, my response is framed on what that student’s interests are. When I have a student say they are really interested in international arbitration, and ask what classes to take, I often suggest they take conflict of laws. A lot of what we do is intuitive, but some aspects of our practice are not intuitive, and I would put conflict of laws in that category. So, I would say, as much as possible (because it’s hard to know what you want to practice at the stage of being a student), try to get an understanding of your areas of interest and then focus on taking classes that are relevant to those interests. The other thing I would say is that it’s important to keep an open mind. It’s important to realize when you’re starting your career that there are so many possibilities, and that your mind may change, you might find new interests. And sometimes, the opportunity to do what you want to do is not going to present itself. 

    Do you recall any experiences where this happened to you?

    I wanted to practice international arbitration – I didn’t get to do that when I started my career. It’s a very small competitive field. I applied all over the country, and think of my profile- French educated Egyptian law student with an LLM. At the time, it was not that easy for an LLM to find a job in the US. I was offered a position as a litigation associate at a firm in Los Angeles.  For a period of about three years, all I did was U.S. domestic litigation. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that – I learned so much from that experience. I learned skills that I would not have learned if I had started immediately practicing in international arbitration. And all I can think of is thank God for the people who trusted me and believed in me at that firm and gave me a job. So, I’m looking at this not from the perspective of “I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do.” Rather, I’m grateful. But then I was also focused. I knew I wanted to do international arbitration. I eventually had to move firms, because my firm did not offer international arbitration. But my point is that, you can know what you want, and you can get to where you want sometimes by taking a circular route, and that circular route might bring a lot of benefits that you might not realize.

    Were there any specific opportunities when you were doing domestic litigation that you sought to put you in a better position to transition into international arbitration, given how niche of a practice area it is?

    Because the learning curve was very steep for me having not been educated substantially in the U.S., the first thing I focused on was being a good litigator. It would have been disingenuous of me to do anything else. I had the job; I had to prove myself at that job. So no – for my first few years, I really had to learn and do well, and impress the people who believed in me and hired me. So I focused on being the best that I could be in what I was hired to do. After two and a half years, I had gained a lot of exposure and appreciation by my colleagues. I had done depositions and oral hearings. After I started getting the hang of what I was doing, I then decided to refocus myself again on pursuing my dream in international arbitration. I asked to be transferred to the New York office of my firm. When I came to New York, I started speaking to partners who were pursuing this type of work. I became active in all sorts of organizations and bar associations. I tried getting speaking engagements and I published. I worked really hard to find a way to catch up, because those few years when I wasn’t in that field- I had to somehow make up, and I did. It was a lot of effort, both internally and externally. It’s internal in terms of exposing yourself, making sure the partners doing that type of work know you, think of you, and it’s external because you want the community at large to know you. 

    Could you elaborate further on the distinction between internal and external work. Also, when you were in the field of international arbitration, being a woman of color, how difficult was it to prove yourself in what many would say is a male dominated culture?

    For the first several years of my career, particularly when I was an associate, I did everything that I could to focus on just doing a good job, and to focus on succeeding both internally and externally. Internally, perhaps is easier to grasp- you do good work. You follow up, you’re an integral member of the team, and you work hard to be indispensable in any matter that you work on. In addition to that, not to be neglected – there is an element of being likable; being present, being a team member, having a personality. At first I didn’t think it would be a good idea to joke, but it took me a while to realize that it’s okay to be yourself, and to own your culture and your identity. Those are things that did not come to me naturally, especially because in all of the environments that I worked, I was usually the only Arab person, only Muslim lawyer, one of few women on teams, especially the more senior I got. So I just worked really hard to do well, and to be liked. I never allowed myself to believe I was at a disadvantage because of my origin or my religion or my background – even if it were true, I didn’t want to be someone who is focusing on the negativity. Sometimes, if you look in that direction, you’re setting yourself back. I truly believe if you work hard, and you believe in yourself, and you’re a good person, you will succeed. And I have been fortunate enough to work in various firms, including the one where I am today, where I felt that those qualities are rewarded regardless of your background. Yes – it is harder when you’re a minority, and it’s hard to have certain conversations about a religious holiday or cultural event that no one around me can relate to, but I don’t let that stand in the way of my ability to succeed.

    That seems like a very positive attitude. Can I also ask, what do you feel are the most challenging aspects of your work and also the most rewarding

    As far as the most challenging aspects in the practice of international arbitration, it is being ready constantly to work with clients and witnesses and opposing parties that are from a new different culture, and to try to understand it and work with it. It is challenging, but is also thrilling. And it is the reason why I do what I do; it’s tough but I love it. It literally keeps me on my toes. For instance, right now, I’m working with Japanese clients. The approach to contentious proceedings in the Japanese culture is quite different. Understanding their culture that is not as confrontational and aggressive, but still working with them to be in a position of defending their interests forcefully are the type of dynamics I find very interesting and challenging. Relatedly, having to learn a new industry depending on the case can also be challenging. You have to learn very complex disputes – I could be doing a mining case on one day and a construction case the next day. You do use experts, but you’re also expected to understand the underlying industry in what you’re doing. There is of course also a personal side as well— the work life balance. I have two children, who are now seven and ten – and it hasn’t always been easy to juggle being a partner at a law firm and being a mother to two young children in NYC with a fulltime working husband, who is also a lawyer. I find that adopting a flexible approach and being where you’re needed most at all times works for me. I need to have the flexibility to decide where I’m needed most and to make the decision accordingly, as to whether I’m going to work late or if I’m going to go home and see my children before they go to bed. I certainly wish I could spend more time with my children, but by adopting this system, I have the ability to be with my children when I’m needed; I rarely miss important events. This has worked for me.

    That goes to back what you were saying about gaining that flexibility from your previous childhood. I also wanted to ask you a few questions about MuBANY before we leave. To start, how long have you been a member of MuBANY?

    As long as I can remember. I came to New York in 2003. I don’t remember how I learned of MuBANY, but I did some digging around, and I thought, wow this is a fantastic group, especially coming from LA, and also coming shortly after September 11. In LA, I was a litigation associate when September 11th happened. One of the associates in my group stopped talking to me when it happened. I was the only Arab, only Muslim, in the office. It was hurtful; he was also a decent friend. And to their credit, the head of litigation at my firm came to me.  He apologized to me on behalf of that associate because he had learned on his own that he, maybe, said some comments. And that associate  never spoke to me again after that. It was the only very impactful experience as a Muslim that I have had in my practice.

    I’m very sorry you had to go through that. Given these types of experiences, what do you think are the greatest strengths of having an organization like MuBANY?

    I think it’s really important for the Muslim community to come together. My sense is that there isn’t a lot of Muslim attorneys overall- we are in the minority. When you start looking at big law- we’re even more in the minority. If you start looking at partners that are Muslim in big law, you are counting them on the fingers of one or two hands. It is very much for that reason, among others that I feel a responsibility as a Muslim woman who is a partner at a big law firm to help and to do whatever I can for the community, to be available for them and to be resource for them, to encourage more of them to follow this path and believe there is room for them in big law and that they can be successful. That is really why I am doing this, and that is why I am involved with MuBANY.

    Through your involvement with MBANY, has there been any experience or people that you’ve met that have had an impact on you?

    Sure, I will mention a couple of people. Adeel Mangi is a remarkable individual. He is inspiring; he is such a wonderful person and role model for the younger generation. Look at the work he’s done, for instance, the mosque that’s being built in New Jersey. He’s done amazing work for the Muslim community, he’s in fact inspired me to take on some of that work with him, and so we’re now teamed up in some of that legal work on a pro bono basis. I would also mention Saira Hussain, who similarly has this selfless willingness to give her time to the community and to others. I have had the chance to spend some time with her, and I think she is such a great leader for this organization. I am thrilled we have women like her that are generous with their time to be involved and engaged in their community.

    How do you think MuBANY has supported its members and engaged in important issues in the community

    I think a lot has been done and is being done. I particularly appreciate the efforts to host events for students and younger practitioners to talk about career related discussions, tips to succeeding in the in-house world or in law firms. Any types of informative events for the younger generation are truly invaluable. They may or may not be geared to the Muslim community. It’s just that offering those resources to these younger folks, and giving them an opportunity to talk and ask questions in a safe environment – this is one of the most important issues. I think we also have an obligation to express our views when we feel like we are being misjudged. We have a responsibility to raise awareness about issues impacting the Muslim community. For instance, I was working, for a number of years, on a pro bono matter on the surveillance of Muslims, and sued the NYPD for their surveillance practices. These are the type of important responsibilities we must engage upon. We are the most likely candidates to take on that work and so our mission should include the promotion of such pro bono work as much as possible to help our community and raise awareness and information, and have a voice.

    I absolutely agree. This has been such a pleasure speaking with you, and on behalf of MuBANY, we thank you so much for your time and support and inspiration. 

  • 14 May 2018 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    We are pleased to announce the candidates running in MuBANY's 2018-2019 Board Election.



    Umair Khan

    Mahir Nisar

    Vice President

    Sayeda Abbas


    Shabbir Chaudhury


    Sabila Khan

    Directors (5 positions)

    Mavara Agha

    Istiak Ahmed   

    Yasmin Dwedar

    Amin Kassam

    Sania W. Khan

    Nilufer R Shaikh

    Furqaan Siddiqui

    Maimoona Zia


    As a reminder, below are the key dates in the election process. 

    -- Monday, May 21, 2018Deadline for new Members or lapsed Members to submit Membership Forms in order to vote.

     -- Tuesday, May 22, 2018Ballots emailed to members.

     -- Tuesday, May 29, 2018Deadline for submitting ballots.





    Umair Khan

    I serve as counsel to New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. I am her principal adviser for health care and technology/telecommunications. In addition, I serve as a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System ($65B AUM) and as a member of the Audit Committee for the City of New York.

    For the past three years, it has been a privilege to serve on the board of MuBANY, first as a board member and for the past two years as treasurer. In this time, I am proud to see our organization grow beyond numbers. We have built and expanded partnerships with other bar associations and leaders in government, as well as advanced legal positions in important court cases across the country. MuBANY has also supported programming for attorneys across various disciplines. We live in unique times that present new challenges but also opportunities. As president, my goal is to build on our successes and leverage the strengths of our organization. Accordingly, I believe we should: 1. support the advancement of Muslims to the City and State judiciary, 2. assist members who seek to become partner or advance the corporate ladder, 3. promote members to take leadership roles in the City and State Bar Associations, and 4. continue to build coalitions and take on legal/civic initiatives. There are those who seek to make Muslims the other and call us a threat, I can think of no better way to countering that than to support these and other initiatives. I ask for your support.

    Mahir Nisar

    As a long standing member of MUBANY, I have been actively involved in the development of the organization and it’s members since I joined the organization. I had the distinct privilege to be the Gold sponsor of MUBANYs inaugural Gala and supporting sponsor for the subsequent Gala. My support is not limited to the financial support of the organization but also in the firm belief that our members are the backbone of the success of this association. When I was a solo practitioner I’ve looked to aide, advise, and mentor many young MUBANY members who sought to open up their own practices. (I was once too a young attorney who sought advice from MUBANY members (Hyder Naqvi) whom I will be forever grateful too.) Not only through assisting them with legal work but also by leading a presentation on legal marketing. I’ve been privileged to represent the organization recently at the Convention on the Status of Women at the United Nations which I believe was a fantastic experience. My goal in becoming a part of the board is to bring my diverse experience in building organizations, life coaching and my legal background to benefit the association as a whole. As an association representing Muslims Attorneys within New York, our reach must extend to many Muslim attorneys who have yet to become members. Perhaps some do not identify with the label. Our need to diversify what it means to be a member of MUBANY must encompass those that do not necessarily identify or practice the faith as well. We must be as inclusive as the inclusion we seek in society. There are many attorneys who are Muslim but do not want to associate with a Muslim Bar: this must change if we are to be a strong knit unit within New York. I’d like to encourage events to cater to the diversity of thought. Muslims are not a specific type and we must cater to all those that are conservative and those that are liberal: this leads to understanding, tolerance, and respect. Our community outreach efforts must include efforts which are both charitable and awareness oriented. We must also create a stronger mechanism for referrals to be spread within the members. Economic growth of our members is the growth of this organization: I am a product of this. I’ve gained many clients through MUBANY and equally I have sent many clients to my fellow members. We must help our members in their career growth: I’ve sought candidates for hiring purposes from this organization as well and I’ve seen many postings from various third party firms and entities. We need more fundraising efforts to hold more events that are not only educational but also those that mix with other organizations and Bars. Our efforts need to extend to the NYSBA, and local bar associations so that we develop the organizations reputation not only amongst the members of other Bars but also with Judges and the Court system. The organization has made amazing strides since it’s existence through Asim, Atif, and Saira and it is my hope that I can build upon their successes for the benefit of us and our community at large.


    Sayeda Abbas

    Dear Friends, It is with great excitement that I request your support in becoming the Vice President on the MuBANY board. Over the last few years, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of you while being the MuBANY Secretary. During this time, I experienced the amazing spirit of MuBANY, while helping drive our organization forward in various ways. I have been passionately involved in establishing our MuBANY footprint while assisting our community with coalition-building and helping with several initiatives, events, and our overall commitment to social justice. I have also served on the annual Gala committee every year and am thrilled that our galas are bigger and better every year. Being involved with such a wonderful group and community has inspired me to serve this organization further and am confident I will continue to fulfill this role with honor. I have been involved in several non-profits and community-based initiatives and have several years of leadership experience, serving on various organizations' boards. I guarantee that with my personality and my experience I can continue to serve as an asset on the MuBANY team. Hard work, organization, determination, humility and strong interpersonal skills are values I hold dear to me and ones that will continue to make me a key member of the board. My goal is to grow our membership base by the inclusion of more law students, public interest attorneys, and non-traditional attorneys. I want to heighten our community feel and community involvement by not only having more events, but also having diversity of events and engaging with other organizations and groups that we have not in the past. Most importantly, as a public interest attorney and lifelong community service advocate, I foresee more community service initiatives to give back to our New York community at large. My hope is to continue to expand on the excellent work done before us by the current board. I assure you that if I am elected as Vice President, I will personally make sure your voice is heard and your presence is felt in this amazing organization. I hope it is in my fortune to serve you as Vice President and humbly request your support in this election. Sincerely, Sayeda Abbas


    Shabbir Chaudhury

    I have been involved with MuBANY for the past several years, having served as Director and In House Chair. I hope to have your vote for Secretary, and look forward to continuing to serve this community. As Secretary, I hope to improve the website and make it easier to stay informed of the association's events and activities. I also plan to begin a newsletter to highlight MuBANY's activities. Additionally, I hope to build on past efforts to increase MuBANY's membership and partner with new and diverse bar associations to create relevant and exciting programming. MuBANY has grown over the past decade from an association for Muslim attorneys to a voice representing the legal needs of the Muslim-American community. I would like to continue building upon that growth and help MuBANY and its members progress further.


    Sabila Khan

    I am delighted to submit my candidacy for Treasurer of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (“MuBANY”). MuBANY has been instrumental in shaping my legal career and I would be delighted to continue giving back to the organization and the legal community by serving in a leadership position. I have been involved in MuBANY for eight years, first as a law student and then as a board member for five years. I played an instrumental role in creating the first scholarship fund to be awarded to a Muslim law student in New York. I was also a member of the gala committee for two years and helped organize MuBANY’s first and second galas. At the first gala, I spearheaded the Silent Auction, which raised enough money to support the scholarship fund for two years. In addition, I helped create the Women’s Committee of MuBANY, which focuses on specific issues faced by Muslim female attorneys. As the Women’s Chair this year, I organized a panel event with four incredible accomplished and impressive Muslim women from different practice areas (academia, government, in-house and big law) who spoke on a range of issues from muslim identity at the workplace to self-branding for promotion. In addition to the scholarship, gala, and women’s committee, I’ve helped with planning our staple events such as our annual iftars, social mixers, and annual general meetings. It would be a wonderful opportunity to continue serving on the board of MuBANY as Treasurer. Thank you for considering me as a candidate. Personal Background Director and Legal Counsel, Bank of Nova Scotia (2017 - Current) Associate, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (2015- 2017) Assistant Vice President and Counsel, BNP Paribas (2012-2015) Law school: University of Notre Dame (2012) College: New York University (2009)


    Mavara Agha

    My name is Mavara Agha and I am asking for your support for my bid for MuBANY Board of Director. I am currently a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. This year, in an effort to become more involved in the broader New York legal community, I had the distinct pleasure to serve as one of the co-chairs of the MuBANY Gala Committee. In this role, I helped planned the Third Annual Awards Gala and Reception and this experience was rewarding for a number of reasons. First, our team secured four esteemed awardees to honor at the Gala: Neal Katyal, the National Women’s Law Center, Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard, and Muslim Advocates. We were especially proud of the fact that three of the four speakers were women and together, the group of awardees represents a diverse slate of individuals across ethnicities, faiths and sectors. Second, I felt honored to work alongside a devoted team of individuals. Through our weekly calls and various planning sessions, I felt inspired by how much can be accomplished when a hard-working team aligns around a shared vision. I also learned more about MuBANY as an organization as many of the Gala Committee members are also current elected board members. Third, with over 250 attendees at the event, I felt privileged to be part of a diverse community of attorneys and was renewed with the desire to push the organization forward. I am grateful to MuBANY for giving me the opportunity to support the Gala this year, as well as an opportunity to learn more about the wonderful work of its members. If elected as a Director of the Board, I would love to pursue some of the following goals to further serve the membership: 1. Create skills-based programming for our members. We all love going to panels and talks which host inspirational speakers; however often times, I can personally attest to walking away from such events feeling a sense of dissatisfaction in not fully realizing the role I can play to advance a certain cause. To alleviate this potential dissonance, I would like to create more programming that equips our members with tangible skills and resources to enhance their impact. Some examples would include workshops on assisting women who are suffering from domestic violence or sessions on know-your-rights trainings. I would hope that our members could then scale such events at their own places of work and multiply the impact of this highly-needed programming. 2. Enhance the relationship between law firms with public interest work. In light of the current political and social climate, it is imperative that we employ an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling some of the issues that require urgent legal attention. Law firms currently have an abundance of resources but often aren’t able to connect said resources with the right projects and are, consequently, missing opportunities to have tangible impact. I would like to spearhead initiatives which link law firms with pro bono opportunities on pressing issues such as immigration, national security, religious discrimination and prison reform. 3. Strengthen connections with the New York and City Bars. Although MuBANY already has very strong ties with other minority bar associations, I believe we can take advantage of more opportunities to strengthen our ties with other professional legal organizations as well. To that end, I would intend to work in parallel with current committees at the New York State and City Bar Associations on a variety of projects such as co-sponsoring programming for both groups’ members, planning social events so our members can network directly with their members, or even pushing for the inclusion of our members on their committees. 4. Establish mentorship programs for transitioning attorneys. In addition to supporting current mentorship programs that MuBANY already has in the works, I would love to focus specifically on establishing mentorship pairings for attorneys who are looking to either transition from one sector to another, or in certain instances, for attorneys who are interested in doing non-legal work. Switching jobs can be challenging, and switching sectors – whether legal or not – can complicate issue. Thus, connecting attorneys to other talented members in our community would serve to make the process smoother and be valuable for all parties involved. I intend to fully dedicate myself to implementing the aforementioned goals, as well as work to ensure that the Board is properly serving the needs of the MuBANY membership in a high-impact, yet resourceful way. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Istiak Ahmed

    I am a foreign trained lawyer, recently graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a Master of Law in general legal studies. I am an NY Bar exam candidate. I am currently working at Data-Core Systems Inc. as an Assistant (Legal) and dealing with business immigration matter for this IT company. I have been actively involved with MUBANY for past three years. I have a keen interest for helping community people actively with my knowledge, connection and expertise that’s why I choose to run for Director Position. Even in my community people are always coming to learn about services offered by lawyer’s community for example, immigration, family matter, corporate matter, and even how to make heat complaint, it just nice to be able to share knowledge and help others through the MUBANY, a significantly growing community based law organization.

    Yasmin Dwedar

    I am interested in a director position with MuBANY because I am interested in contributing my skills, experience, and network to the organization and its members. I have been a member of MuBANY for years and am interested in taking on a leadership role with the organization. I have attended MuBANY events and contributed as a speaker at a recent round table discussion about succession and leadership held by the women's committee just last month. Subsequent to this discussion, I have had conversations with some offers regarding potential ideas for growth of the organization and I am interested in bringing those ideas to fruition if given an opportunity to serve as a director. I believe that my previous professional experience as a teacher, law clerk, prosecutor, and leader with the Arab American Bar Association and Network of Bar Leaders could benefit the organization and its members and will allow me to share with the organization the network I have formed in my years of professional practice. Further, I am currently being considered for appointment to serve on various diversity committees and am scheduled to provide diversity trainings at my place of work and other bar associations. I would be happy to bring these trainings and these networks to MuBANY as well. If you are interested in learning more about my educational/professional background, feel free to access my LinkedIn profile: I would be honored to have your vote to serve as director for the organization.

    Amin Kassam

    My name is Amin Kassam and I am currently the Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. where I am responsible for the operations of the Legal and Compliance Department along with litigating and advising on issues relating to new media, technology, privacy, and intellectual property. I am also a member of Bloomberg’s Diversity Council and, in that role, have played a key role in raising awareness about issues facing Muslims at Bloomberg. For example, I led efforts that resulted in the Company signing onto a Supreme Court amicus brief challenging the Trump administration’s travel ban and, most recently, I hosted Bloomberg’s first ever lunch and learn panel discussion on Ramadan. I t has been my privilege to serve on the MUBANY Board for the past year and I hope to be given the opportunity to serve again. As a Muslim lawyer for the past 17 years, I believe I bring a breadth of experience that is unique to the Board having spent much of my time practicing as one of the first or only Muslim lawyers at the law firms and federal clerkships where I started my career. Indeed, living through 9-11 without the support of a community of Muslim lawyers was lonely and challenging and it continues to drive my desire to help make MUBANY an even stronger, dynamic, and more influential bar association. At a time when the rights of Muslims in the United States are under tremendous threat, I believe that it is critical that we build coalitions and draw upon allies in order to support our efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans. As a result, in the past I helped MUBANY to host a joint Eid celebration with the New York Civil Liberties Union, a moderated discussion with the Metropolitan Black Lawyers Association on Why Black Lives Matter to Muslims, a panel on Out LGBT Asian lawyers and judges with the Asian American and LGBT Bar Associations, and a new initiative with the City of New York to provide pro bono mediation services to Muslim communities throughout New York City. If elected, I hope to continue this work and create new programs that build bridges across communities, undertake initiatives to protect the rights of Muslims and other marginalized communities, and further enhance diversity and inclusion within MUBANY. Thank you for your consideration.

    Sania W. Khan

    My name is Sania Khan, and I am running for a Director position with MuBANY for the 2018-2019 term. I am an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and serve as the Muslim Communities Liaison for the Office. My work in these roles has focused primarily on litigation challenges to the travel ban (“Muslim ban”), the rescission of DACA, and the addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. Census, as well as generally working on the Office's Religious Rights Initiative. I served as a Director at MuBANY during the 2017-2018 term - and during this term, I was able to work on a variety of events and intiatives. I worked on developing MuBANY's amicus efforts, served on this year's gala committee, and have most recently been assisting in the launch of MuBANY's newsletter (coming soon!). If given the opportunity to serve as a Director again, I would further these efforts by ensuring that MuBANY's newsletter is timely and consistent (meaning less emails on the listserv!), focus on ways to further streamline MuBANY's operations - to ensure that MuBANY runs as smooth as possible, and create an initiative to assist mid-level attorneys seeking pipelines to leadership positions in the judiciary, public and private sectors - across the board. I would also continue my work on MuBANY's amicus initiative, and to the extent possible, will aid in MuBANY’s engagement with the public sector. I intend to be resourceful and dedicated in executing this vision. Thank you for your consideration.

    Nilufer R Shaikh

    I am interested in joining the MuBANY board in order to contribute my efforts towards developing a thriving and impactful Muslim legal community in New York City. I have enjoyed my involvement over this past year in MuBANY events, from collaborating on the MuBANY Gala Committee to organize and execute one of MuBANY’s signature events in May to participating in a women’s roundtable discussion on professional success. Throughout this past year, I have been consistently impressed with the quality, collegiality and passion of the individuals who work hard to create a MuBANY community and am excited to help further expand that community. By way of my vision for MuBANY, I would like to position the organization and its online presence to serve as a central database for the broader New York Muslim legal community to source speakers and to connect community leaders and local non-profit organizations with existing resources. Secondly, MuBANY has great potential as a platform, which I would help build out, for professional networking/mentoring, relationship building and substantive programming of interest to the Muslim community and likely coalition partners. A short professional bio may be found here ( and here (

    Furqaan Siddiqui

    As a new Muslim lawyer and a new resident in New York City, I’d love to play an active role in MuBANY and help further the mission of the organization. I am focused, hard-working, pretty social, and alhamdulilah have a pretty broad network by virtue of having lived in SF, Chicago, and LA before moving here. I’m currently practicing restructuring at Jones Day and am a member of SABANY.

    Maimoona Zia

    My name is Maimoona Zia, and I currently serve as counsel to an international investment bank. I served as MuBANY's Membership Chair this preceding term and am now seeking election as a director on MuBANY's board. As a Chair, I initiated and managed MuBANY's participation at the United Nations this past March. In this regard, I created a new program whereby 2 MuBANY members, who were chosen through a competitive application process, had the privilege to attend sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and observe international legal and policy debates first-hand. Through attendance at this event, MuBANY representatives had the opportunity to liaise with diplomats, subject matter experts, and other non-governmental organizations to explore issues relevant to MuBANY's membership, such as women's legal rights, and provide reports to MuBANY on their observances. Further, during my time as a Chair, I also served as MuBANY's representative to a select women's leadership development event, where I gained insight into development opportunities that may be of interest to MuBANY's membership, and also participated in MuBANY's branding efforts, where I researched promotional marketing materials for the benefit of MuBANY's membership. I believe that my experiences serving as Membership Chair have prepared me well for the rigors of a director position, and if elected as a director, I will continue to (1) explore novel opportunities that may be of benefit to our membership, like the United Nations and women's development programs I noted above, and (2) advocate for the rights of MuBANY members and the larger Muslim and minority communities. I hope you will give me such an opportunity.

  • 19 Apr 2018 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    Recently, in advance of the Senate confirmation hearings for Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, MuBANY and the National LGBT Bar Association sent a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand opposing the nomination.  In addition, the two bar organizations oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

    As you may know, Senator Schumer is the Minority Leader of the Senate and previously voted in support of Pompeo to his current post as CIA Director. The letter highlights Mike Pompeo’s history of blatant anti-Muslim bigotry.  Pompeo has frequently peddled anti-Muslim conspiracy theories from the floor of the House of Representatives to right-wing talk radio. Pompeo is ill-suited to be America’s lead diplomat.

    During the George W. Bush Administration, Gina Haspel played a troubling role in our nation’s torture program.  She operated a CIA blacksite in Thailand and then subsequently in violation of a federal court order oversaw the destruction of videos documenting the torture of detainees. 

    The letter further details the basis for their disqualification. 

    Please click here to read the full letter. 

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Muslim Bar Association of New York

P.O. Box 2244 New York, NY 10185


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